The Lord speaks to Moses in Exodus 33:11. The twenty-third Psalm of David makes reference to being lead, being guided, being with God, being comforted by God. In Isaiah, God speaks to Jacob and refers to calling him [Isaiah 41:8].
Lest we not forget to mention the New Testament, Jesus comments on the Holy Spirit repeatedly: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” [John 3: 6-8]. Paul refers to what Jesus said in the lines in Hebrews 13:5-6: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
It would seem Dr. Willard says that human beings are made to receive messages from God.
That is good if you believe that.
That is good if you are willing to listen.
That is very good if you are willing to do what God tells you to do.
Here are the kickers.
Many of us have our own agendas. We want messages from God but we want God to speak to us and tell us what we want to do. That’s convenient.
Many of us want it even better than that. We ask God to “do” for us. We want God to do what we want. This goes beyond just giving permission. We want Him to be our personal active Divine Agent.
This flies in the face of God’s will for us.
To be in God’s will means that we turn over control to Him.
Do you want that?
Dr. Willard states “we can be solidly in the will of God and be aware that we are, without knowing God’s preference in regard to various details of our lives. We can be in His will as we do certain things without our knowing that he prefers these actions to certain other possibilities.”
The way I read that, we are in His will and not our own.
This makes perfect sense in that famous prayer we pray from Matthew 6:9-13 “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How many times have we said this prayer by rote in church and never even thought it means that we are praying for God to take over.
Yet Dr. Willard further says the “hearing [of] God makes sense only in the framework of living in the will of God.”
We have choices: to live in His will or not. Many don’t want to try to please God. They want to please society or themselves. They pursue many gods other than God. Yet that is not what God wants for us.
To hear God and do what He asks is to live the best life on earth we can.
Lest we go too far with this and you break out your copy of the ten commandments and get obsessed with following every one of them “to the letter”, Dr. Willard cites 2 Corinthians 3:6 “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life..” One can do everything that God commands and may still not be living in God’s will. There is such a thing as trying to work too hard to be perfect and failing. The spirit factor comes into play here. Christians who are hearing from God and doing His will are not just following a set of rules, they are flowing in God’s Spirit.
The “rules” are expected of us. The response of the spirit to God’s urging is where God wants the growth to occur. That’s where people in the Bible got their inspiration to be more than they thought they could be. Moses told God he could not lead because he could not speak. David did not have what it took because he committed adultery. Paul murdered Christians. Thomas had to have supreme evidence and doubted until he had it. Abraham was too old.
The list goes on and on.
What distinguishes all these Bible characters [they certainly were not perfect rule followers]? They talked to God, they listened to God and they did what He asked of them.
So let me ask one more time.
Is This a Book You Really Want to Read?
To take Dr. Willard seriously, you have to understand that God wants us to live in His will. To take God seriously you will have to understand that God rules.